PM: Govt committed to eradicating development gap between peninsula, Sabah

The govt is also committed to realising the target of zero hardcore poverty in the state by end-2025

THE federal government is making efforts to eradicate the development gap between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, including through the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

The prime minister (PM) said the toll-free Pan Borneo Highway being built in Sabah has the potential to transform all areas in the state within the next five years.

“At the same time, the government is also committed to continue investing in education by repairing and rebuilding all dilapidated schools in the rural areas of Sabah.

“I was told that the Education Ministry has entrusted 113 dilapidated schools in Sabah to the Public Works Department (JKR) of Malaysia and Sabah JKR as the implementing agency to upgrade these schools at a cost of RM1.02 billion.

“For sure, it is the hope of the federal government to see Sabah and Sarawak also together enjoying rapid development similar to that in other states,” he said when launching the Sabah-level “Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia” tour at the Sabah International Convention Centre today.

Also present were Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam, Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee, state Cabinet ministers and senior ministry officials.

PM said the government would remain committed to realising the target of zero hardcore poverty in 10 localities in Sabah by the end of 2025 as outlined under the 12th Malaysia Plan through the holistic involvement of all relevant departments and agencies.

He said the 10 localities identified for Phase 1 of the Malaysia Family hardcore poverty eradication programme in Sabah are Tongod, Pitas, Kota Belud, Kota Marudu, Beluran, Nabawan, Tuaran, Sipitang, Beaufort and Ranau.

According to him, the poverty eradication programme was previously implemented in silos, but the roles of all agencies involved were now combined, with the PM’s Department through the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU) acting as the coordinator and facilitator.

“The government is holding a comprehensive engagement session with the cooperation of the state government and district offices to obtain input from all parties, including at the grassroots level, to ensure that this target can be achieved.

“EPU and ICU will be the coordinator that brings together all parties involved such as ministries, state governments, academicians, the private sector and NGOs to find the best method to eradicate hardcore poverty holistically based on locality,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said the federal government has always played its role in fulfilling all matters listed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), especially those related to Malaysia Family in Sabah.

In the spirit of Malaysia Family, he said the government hoped that any outstanding issues or requests from Sabah could be considered in the best way possible through the federal-level committee set up to discuss the state’s demands on MA63.

On another matter, he said the Trilateral Cooperation Agreement between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines would be reviewed to strengthen defence and security in Sabah waters.

Ismail Sabri also said residents of Pagalungan in Nabawan no longer need to travel more than 100km to Keningau to get their border crossing pass as it is now available at the Pagalungan Immigration Control Post in the district.

To ensure the “no wrong door policy”, renewal of long-term visit pass and temporary working visit pass can now be done at all immigration offices in the state, he said.

On the issue of unreasonable increases in flight ticket prices during festival periods, he said discussions would be held with the parties involved so that Malaysia Family would no longer have to worry when they want to return to their hometowns during the next festive season. — Bernama